Tuesday, December 22, 2009

United Yet Unequal

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What did Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) expect?


Once the word got out that business as usual hit a new low in Washington during the course of the health care debate, did he really think that he would be the only one able to cash in for some earmarked goodies for the sake of getting to the magical 60?

We've had the Louisiana Purchase. We've had Joe Lieberman's lasso holding back the health care vote single-handedly. And now, we have the 50 united and unequal states of the Union.

Senator Ben Nelson's shrewd business deal to sweeten the health care "reform" deal for the citizens of Nebraska (at the inconvenience and fiscal cost of the other 49 states) left a horribly bad taste in the mouths of any American paying attention the latest round of "change" coming from the ranks in Washington.

One can ask: if this is change that we can all believe in, why did we have to bait several left-leaning senators in order to get the deal?

With this being the case - states such as Louisiana and Nebraska benefiting from the negotiations of their senators - what is next on the horizon for the holdout senators that sit on the "needing 60" fence on this health care debate, particularly as we approach the conference to mend the two bills.

Will a state holdout from another Democrat flip-flopper - for example, say Senator Arlen Specter threatens to go back to the Republican Party and vote against the final bill in the Senate (that is, of course, if they would ever have him back) - could Mr. Specter hold out his vote until, say, Pennsylvania gets another member in the Senate? Perhaps he would bargain for another few representatives in other house of Congress instead? Or many concession for more electoral votes in 2012, just in case the race is close for the White House and President Obama's reelection bid? (Which, at this rate, it will be.)

Does this sound odd, as if this is an overexaggeration? Hardly - when you consider the amount of earmarks and other perks that have been included in the current legislation in order to "persuade" members of the supermajority to walk the party line and ignore their conscience to the nation at large.

And if the congressional (more likely, the senatorial) precedent has been set - that driving a hard bargain with one's vote (instead of treating that vote with the historical reverence and temperance that it deserves) is a recipe to "bring home the bacon" for a re-election bid - what else are we losing in the process of gaining health care reform?

People may lament the excess of taxes being proposed in the legislation. Others may highlight the introduction of universal government bureaucracy into the health care equation. However, the greatest risk to Americanism during this health care "reform" is the lack of reform that it has exhibited within our political system. If the process for instituting "change" has come with the additional (and immeasurable) cost of blatantly buying votes, there is a daunting challenge in front of all Americans and it has nothing to do with health care.

How are we supposed to uphold a country where 50 states are strengthened and sound through their unity as equal partners in running this country from a senatorial perspective? If the bargaining for health care can exhibit such discrepancies between how states will be treated? Are some states seen as being beneath others, thus viable options for securing more Americans to die in overseas wars that others states may direct with additional political powers accumulated through backroom deals? Are some states justifiable in directing other states to pay for the free ride of other members of the Union? Should New York state residents pay a high federal tax rate because they have a higher population? Should border states such as Texas and Arizona pay more towards the federal solution resolving illegal immigration, even as states such as North Carolina and South Carolina suffer a similar fate away from Mexico?

Thank you, Senator Nelson and the Democratic leadership in the United States Senate. The very thing that our forefathers were fearful of - being able to purchase votes in the annuls of Congress - is now occurring, thus making a Union of equal partners at risk of devolving into a hodgepodge of 50 disjointed members. Ironically, all of this at the cost of pursuing what some call "health care equality."

Students of history and common Americans see the problem of pursuing legislative perfection through the imperfections of hidden personal agendas. Sadly, there are not enough equal, focused, and studious historians in the Senate today to share the same concerns that their constituents have repeatedly voiced. The inequalities from American to American regarding health care - also reflected in how Americans are represented in Washington - may spread its poison further to how states treat each other in Congress.

If this is the sickness of thought that we are willing to pursue to heal more Americans, then I shudder to consider the richness of possibilities when corruption, ambition, and opportunity meet during our next "must do" legislative endeavor sponsored by this administration and its supermajority cronies.

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